Savory beef Birria is easier than you might think to make with a homemade adobo sauce. While this Birria recipe does take some time, it is so worth every minute for enjoying the most juicy, tender, and incredibly flavorful Birria beef shredded tacos - plus, it's great for making ahead and freezing.
Why We Love This Beef Birria Recipe
Although traditional Birria Tacos (Tacos de Birria) are made with hard-to-find goat meat or more expensive lamb meat, my easy Birria recipe uses quality beef. My experience has been that the chuck roast and beef short ribs add depth of flavor and succulence.
What You'll Need to Make Birria Tacos
- A heavy skillet for making the adobo sauce.
- A Dutch oven or other deep oven-safe dish for cooking the beef Birria.
- Ingredients for homemade adobo sauce. You'll need guajllio and ancho chiles, canned crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic, apple cider vinegar, and spices: black peppercorns, dried Mexican oregano, fresh thyme leaves, and ground cumin.
- Ingredients for our beef Birria recipe. Both boneless chuck roast and beef short ribs, plus kosher salt, whole cloves, bay leaves, a cinnamon stick (optional, but recommended for great spicy flavor), and chicken broth.
- Birria beef shredded tacos ingredients. Vegetable oil, corn tortillas, fresh chopped onion and cilantro, plus limes cut into wedges.
How to Make Adobo Sauce
First, heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat and add guajillo and ancho chiles to the skillet. Stir continuously as you cook them for 2-3 minutes, until fragrant. Remove from the pan and set aside.
In a large saucepan over high heat, add 6 cups of water and bring to a boil. Transfer the chilies to the water and then immediately remove from the heat. Let the chilies soak in the water for about 7 minutes, until soft.
Once softened, drain the chiles and discard the water. Holding the tip of the chiles, snip off the stem and scrape out the seeds. Discard the seeds and stem, and set the cooked and cleaned chilies aside.
Use a paper towel to wipe the large skillet dry before adding 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heating until shimmering. Then add the tomatoes, onions and garlic, and cook while stirring frequently. After the onions and garlic are lightly browned, add peppercorns, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes or until the flavors are melded. Let cool slightly.
Transfer the cooled mixture to the blender along with the chiles. Add the cumin, apple cider vinegar and 2 cups cold water. Blend for about a minute or until perfectly smooth. Use a sieve to strain mixture and reserve the sauce for making Birria tacos.
How to Make Tacos de Birria
If this Birria recipe seems a bit of a labor of love, I promise it is so worth the time and really takes little actual effort. To make beef Birria at home you first need to marinade the meat in the adobo sauce. Place the chuck roast and short ribs in a nonreactive casserole dish, cover with the adobo sauce, and then seal the container tightly and place in the refrigerator. Marinade for at least 4 hours or for up to 2 days before cooking.
When you're ready to prepare, follow these simple steps:
- Begin by preheating the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and remove the marinated beef from the fridge.
- Transfer the adobo-coated chuck roast and ribs to a Dutch oven. Heat on the stovetop on medium heat, and add broth, bay leaves, cloves, and cinnamon sticks. Stir as you bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, transfer the Dutch oven to the preheated oven and cook for 4 hours. Be sure to check after 2 hours, however, and add more water if needed to keep the beef Birria from drying out.
- When the beef for your Birria tacos is fork-tender, remove from the oven and discard the cinnamon sticks, cloves, and bay leaves. Move the roast and ribs to a clean work surface, and use two forks to shred the meat. Then return back to the Dutch oven, and stir the beef back into the adobo sauce. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes to really get that wonderful melt-in-your-mouth texture that is the hallmark of tacos de Birria. Discard the fat and bones before serving.
Tips to Make the Best Birria Beef Shredded Tacos
- Dip the Tortillas in Sauce. Then heat in a skillet on medium-high heat with oil, place the soaked corn tortilla in the skillet, and top with the beef and cheese, if you like. Allow the taco to cook for a minute before using a spatula to fold the taco closed and transfer to a serving plate.
- Top with Onions and Cilantro. Chop finely and add a generous sprinkle of both to prepared Birria tacos for a pop of fresh flavor.
- Serve with Garnishes. Along with onion and cilantro, I recommend serving beef Birria tacos with lime wedges, sour cream, and a dish of extra adobo sauce on the side.
Variations of this Birria Recipe
- Use all Chuck Roast. Feel free to substitute the beef short ribs with more chuck roast to make our Birria recipe. Your tacos de birria will be amazing either way when coated in adobo sauce.
- Make the Adobo Ahead of Time. The adobo sauce can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Just allow to cool to room temperature before covering and refrigerating. Then follow the Birria tacos recipe per the directions.
- Birria Beef Soup or Stew. This savory beef dish is delicious to eat right from a bowl with your favorite toppings. You can add a bit more water or broth to the stew while cooking, if you like.
- Birria Tacos with Cheese. Top the tacos de birria with a generous sprinkling of a Mexican melting cheese, such as queso Oaxaca or queso asadero.
- Omit Dipping the Tortillas. In the full recipe below I suggest that you dip the Birria tacos in the adobo, but this is not required. Simply heat the tortillas in the skillet for 1 minute. Then transfer to a serving platter and top with ¼ cup beef Birria and cheese (if using). Continue with step 12.
- Corn versus Flour Tortillas. I recommend that you use corn tortillas if you are planning to dip them in the adobo and fry them. Corn tortillas hold their shape better than flour. But if you are not dipping the tacos de birria, you can use either flour or corn tortillas.
How to Store Leftover Birria Beef
Store in the Fridge. This is an excellent make ahead recipe. Beef Birria will keep well stored in an airtight container in the fridge for at least 3 days.
Prepare as a Make Ahead Freezer Meal. Seal cooled Birria in a zipper plastic bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Simply defrost in the fridge overnight before you're ready to enjoy delicious tacos de Birria as a fast and easy weeknight dinner.
More Easy Mexican Recipes
- Amazing Fish Tacos with Sauce
- Easy Enchiladas Verdes (Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas)
- Scrumptious Chicken Tinga (Tinga de Pollo)
Serving Suggestions for Tacos de Birria
Birria Tacos Recipe With Amazing Adobo Sauce
- 2 pounds boneless chuck roast
- 2 pounds beef short ribs, bone-in
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 6 whole cloves
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cinnamon stick optional
- 4 cups no salt added chicken broth
- Vegetable oil
- 16 corn tortillas see Tip
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 limes cut into wedges
- Heat a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add guajillo and ancho chiles to the skillet; cook, stirring continuously, 2 to 3 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.
- In a large saucepan over high heat, add 6 cups water and bring to a boil. Transfer the chilies to the water and remove from the heat. Let stand 7 minutes or until the chiles are softened.
- Drain chiles and discard water. Hold the tip of the chiles and snip off the stem. Scrap out the seeds. Discard seeds and stem. Add chiles to a blender. Set aside.
- Using a paper towel, wipe the large skillet dry. Add 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet and heat until shimmering. Add the tomatoes, onions and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions and garlic are lightly browned. Add peppercorns, oregano and thyme. Cook, stirring frequently, 9 minutes or until the flavors are melded. Let cool slightly.
- Transfer mixture to the blender with the chiles. Add the cumin, apple cider vinegar and 2 cups cold water. Blend about 1 minute or until smooth. Strain mixture, reserving the sauce.
- Arrange chuck roast and short ribs in a large nonreactive casserole dish. Season all over with the salt. Pour adobo sauce over the meat and turn to coat with the sauce. Cover tightly and refrigerate 4 hours or up to 2 days.
- Preheat oven to 300°F.
- Transfer adobo and beef mixture to a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the cloves, bay leaves, cinnamon stick (if using) and chicken broth. Cook, stirring occasionally, until simmering, Cover and bake 4 hours or until meat is tender. Check stew after 2 hours, adding more water as needed. Discard cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon stick.
- Transfer chuck roast and short ribs to a work surface. Using 2 forks, shred beef and return to sauce. Simmer 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt. Discard bones and excess fat.
- In a large skillet or griddle over medium-high heat, coat bottom surface lightly with oil.
- Using tongs, dip 1 tortilla in broth and add to the skillet. Repeat with 1 to 2 more tortillas or as many tortillas will fit without overlapping. Add about ¼ cup meat on one-half of each tortilla. Cook, 1 to 2 minutes or until tacos are lightly browned and crisp. Fold tortillas in half and gently press together with a spatula. Transfer to a serving plate. Repeat with remaining tacos and filling. (see Tip)
- Sprinkle tacos with onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges. Ladle adobo broth into serving bowls for dipping.